Vis mortua

In physics, vis mortua refers to "dead force", in contrast to vis viva or "living force".

In 1673, Gottfried Leibniz was using the term vis mortua in his correspondence with Edme Mariotte. [3]

In c.1686, Leibniz had distinguished active force into vis mortua, associated with the tendency of bodies to begin motion, as in a stretched spring that begins to recoil, and vis viva, associated with actual motion. His introduction of the term, and newly forming calculus behind its quantification, to note, seems rather elusive. He states, for instance, vis viva arises “from an infinite number of continuous impressions” of vis mortua. [1]

In the 1730s, Daniel Bernoulli defined vis mortua as the force “which a body not in motion receives when solicited or pressed towards motion.”

English mathematician Charles Hutton defined vis mortua in 1815 as “any kind of pressure, or an endeavor to move, not sufficient to produce actual motion, unless its action on a body be continued for some time. [2]

Vis mortua seems to be a precursor to potential energy.

1. Vailati, Ezio. (1997). Leibniz and Clarke (pg. 180). Oxford University Press.
2. Hutton, Charles. (1815). A Philosophical and Mathematical Dictionary, Vol. 2 (pg. 568). University of Lausanne.
3. Tho, Tzuchien. (2017). Vis Vim Vi: Declinations of Force in Leibnitz’s Dynamics (vis mortua, pg. 80). Springer.

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